Last season, Matt Duchene took at two year, $7 million deal as a promise that he would prove he is worthy of a big contract.
Now, after a year in which Duchene scored 17 goals and 43 points in 47 games, living up to the promise he made, the Colorado Avalanche signed him to a five year $30 million deal that will keep him on the payroll until 2019.
Duchene's season proved he is able to play first line minutes, penalty kill, powerplay as well as a leadership role. Though the Avs struggled throughout the season, Duchene did not. Thanks to a new diet and training regimen, Duchene emerged as a star in the league and a leader for the Avs.
Even when the Avs were playing terrible, watching Duchene was worth the price of admission.
It used to be the Avs would start negotiating with their players the summer before their contract was up. A downside of this: sometimes the free agent was not signed until August or, in the case of Ryan O'Reilly, until the Calgary Flames dropped an offer sheet on him.
Joe Sakic and the Avs wasted little time on Duchene, opening negotiations at the draft and working with Duchene's agent Pat Brisson to get a deal done before the start of the season. Duchene earned his money and the Avs wasted little time in rewarding him for his preparation and performance.
It is only two months into the new era in Avalanche hockey but already, it is taking care of business to assure the Avalanche are moving back to consistent playoff contenders.